Breakfast @ 226 - Bulgar Wheat with Lemon Zest

When it comes to diet, moderation is the key, they say.  You know what I say?  People with no will-power don't have access to the concept of moderation.  I imagine most of us know what the word means, and maybe even use it in reference to our half-ass workout routine, but can we practice it in our everyday diets?  Ummm, no.  I eat what I like and I guess I have to be thankful that I've trained my tastebuds to like more healthful foods.  But, when I eat those foods, or any foods, I eat alot of them.

Just a moment ago my spoon inadvertently dipped into the peanut butter jar seven times.  Then, my spoon got bored, and dipped itself in the Nutella jar, twice.  It was only then that I noticed that I was even eating.  It is, for this very reason, that I surround myself with good, whole foods.  I cannot stock my pantry full of packaged snacks and my freezer full of creamy treats because I will eat them all, in one day sitting.  

It is in this context only that I agree, abstinence is the only 100% protection philosophy.  While it is rare that I crave bad food, I would eat it if it were around.  I can't "just say no" or even say, "just a little."  That sort of discipline is not a character trait that I was given, or have been able to develop over the last 30 years.  I only know, "yes" and "more."  This morning, at work, a lovely, lovely woman (who has never baked an average tasting baked good in her life) brought in Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies.  "Great," I thought, "I'll try one."  Seven cookies later, I left the break room.  Did I need them?  Was I hungry?  It was 7 a.m. and I had already eaten breakfast.

It is for the aforementioned flaws that I make things like this Bulgar for breakfast.  Please don't think me a nutritionally virtuous angel because I am not.  I just try to put some serious distance between me and the cookie jar.

Bulgar Wheat with Lemon Zest - from this book.  We love oatmeal, just as much as the other All-American family of four, especially this one.  But, when you're looking for something brighter and chewier and all-around more interesting, give this a try.  I was not expecting to be as completely delighted as I was the first time I made it.  My kids love it.  Serves 4

1 cup coconut milk (I've also used almond milk)
about 1 1/2 cups water
1 cup medium bulgar (I use quick cooking)
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon*
1 tablespoon or so of local honey
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk and 3/4 cup of water to a boil and stir in the bulgar.  Bring back to a boil then turn down the heat to maintain a simmer, until the bulgar is creamy, 5-20 minutes (depending on what type of bulgar you use).  Add water if the mixture becomes dry before the bulgar cooks all the way through.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and honey.  

Serve in individual bowls and top with toasted almonds.  Sometimes, I add more almond milk at the end, it just depends on how soupy you like your breakfast grains.

*Do not be tempted to squeeze the lemon juice in also.  It curdles the milk, I know.


{Rule Number Three}

3.  Cartooned pajama pants are never okay.  Not on your college campus, not in the airport and never at the grocery store.  Dress yourselves, please.

See Rule Number 1 & 2


Weekending @ 226

What are you up to this weekend?  I have dinner group tonight and while it sounds retro and somewhat stale, is something I look forward to every month.  This month's theme is Spain and I am struggling (once again) to commit to one dish.  My uncle got me this cookbook when I got back from my trip to Spain a few (more like 10) years ago, and I can't stop looking through it and wanting to make every single thing.  Though, I think I've settled on a smoked tomato soup, a few anchovy stuffed deviled eggs, orange segments in red wine syrup and almond paste stuffed dates.  Though I can't get this cauliflower with paprika and caper sauce out of my head.  Depending on how they turn out, I'll be sure to share the recipes here.

The rest of the weekend is all cleaning and crafting for the baby shower next weekend.  It's been a while since I've hosted a proper party not involving pirates or ages in the single digits.  So, it's time to dust off the wine glasses and launder the tablecloths.  Here's some shocking and somewhat disappointing news: Pinterest has failed me on this one.  The Baby Shower pins are far too cutesy for me (and the mom-to-be), not to mention it's a couples' shower.  I mean, really, who wants a pacifier on top of their cupcake?

I'm so excited to be hosting because I love a good party!  Any tips for fuss-free entertaining and too cutesy-free showers are welcome.

Other Stuff:

I think my neighbor and I are venturing out to see this movie.  It looks super freaky, but it's been a long time since I've seen a good scary movie.  Would you see it?

We're reading this for our book club this month and I'm really excited to start it!

My sister and I planned on having a tamale making sesh over the holidays, but sadly ran out of time.  Are you intimidated by tamales?  These look amaze.

I just bought this vintage WWI poster to hang in my kitchen.  I've coveted it for so long and totally believe every single word.

Having San Francisco and Key West on my weather.com homepage is a cruel form of torture.

I made this soup last night, but replaced the tomato paste with Harissa and skipped the red pepper flakes.  It's the first time I've ever used it and it added such a toasty, warm, and slightly spicy flavor.

My Dad came over for soup last night and afterwards, we played this game.  Have you guys played it?  While the box reads "for ages 7+" our kids had a blast of a time.  We all did.

I was tempted to buy this skirt while I was at Target yesterday.  How cute would it be with a tucked in grey tee and flats?  I can't wait for Spring.

I also love this print and message.  And this one.

Lastly, this poem has always been my favorite.  Do you have a favorite?

I hope you stay warm this weekend.  And have a little fun, too.

He can play alone for hours, uninterrupted.  Especially with this plane.

Our backyard.

Love her laugh, hate that she no longer likes to have her picture taken. 
Reed's first recipe.  Sauteed cabbage with copious amounts of black pepper.  She thought of it, and made it from start to finish and it was delicious.  I was so proud.

My first Valentine's Day present from Beckett.  I think it's the best!


Breakfast @ 226 - Banana Crunch Muffins

I had dinner ready at the Senior Citizen Hour of 4:10 p.m. yesterday.  There were a few reasons for this, none of them planned.  I knew Jason was going to be working into the night so I was preparing myself to be a One Man Band by getting all my dinner ducks in a row before I picked Reed up from school.  You know, mise en place, as they say.  

When we arrived home, I was barraged with 1,700 only slightly whiney requests for food.  The phrase , "May I please have..." was on repeat, not to mention it's less formal and more demanding cousin, "Mama, make me..."  The scene was really, very charming.  Every time the tip of my toe crossed the threshold of leaving the kitchen (to say, go do some laundry or get the mail) there was another child.  Another child, asking for more food.  At one point I was slicing an apple with one hand and dishing out snap peas with the other.  I only survived one hour before...

I started making dinner.  I know it's a drastic decision to pour a little olive oil in a pan at 3:45 in the afternoon.  But, if I hadn't done that, I would have done something worse.  Like, maybe...run away to a deserted island where no one even snacks, or eats at all.

The only backlash of this wild decision was that dinner (usually the main time-consuming event of the evening) was over at the ripe hour of 4:30.  Plates in the sink and faces wiped: Done.  Before the begging for dessert or complaints of boredom even began, I announced the post-dinner project.  "We're making muffins!"  Of course, I announced this before checking the pantry to see if we had anything with which to make a decent muffin.  Small Detail.  The kids were thrilled because our evening rituals usually include something less involved like taking a walk or reading books.  Making muffins in the evening time was a major deal.

Get your hand out of the frame, dude!

Though, in the wake of our evening chaos, I quite honestly have no idea what I made for dinner.  I do know I made some bomb-ass muffins.  And for a moment, everyone was content.  Here they are.

Banana Crunch Muffins - which should really be called Survival Muffins are adapted from these

3 super ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
a hearty pinch of cloves
1 1/2 cup your choice of flour (I used oat bran, white whole wheat and spelt, 1/4 cup of each and I love how they turned out)
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 tablespoon chia seed
1/4 cup uncooked millet

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan or line a muffin pan.

Whip your bananas and egg together in an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk* attachment until light and pale yellow.  This can also be done with a hand mixer.  Add the oil and fully incorporate.  Add the sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and whip until uniform.  

Sprinkle the baking soda, salt and spices over the batter and mix.  

Lastly, add your flours, flax, chia and millet and with the mixer on low, mix until just incorporated.

Pour into prepared loaf pan or a lined muffin pan.  Bake loaf for 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  The muffins will bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

These stay good for a while (5 days), and really get a little better each day!  Though we won't really get to find out, we only have four left.

*The paddle attachment would also work.  But, the whisk just made the batter light and creamy, and broke up the bananas.

So thrilled he gets to eat the prop.


Snack @ 226 - Chocolate Cookie Dough Bites

I wish I didn't have to admit this to you.  This is not the conversation that I set out to have, but we're having it.  Right Now.  I just brought a small bowl (pictured below) containing three of these bites up into my bedroom so I could 1) photograph them and then 2) sit down to write this post.  I was, of course, planning on returning the Snack Bites to their safe and chilled home in the refrigerator.

Somehow, I got distracted and threw one in my mouth.  It was casual, nobody saw.  Luckily, I had already taken a totally underwhelming picture of them.  That's not to say that I didn't want to take more, better pictures.  "That's not too bad," I thought.  There are still plenty for after-school treats throughout the week.  One less?  No one will even notice.  Not even my major chocolate obsessor whose name starts with a B.  My mind is full of all kinds of denial.  Mostly regarding chocolate and growing credit card debt.

And then, I think you know what happened.  I'm not proud.  I totally set out with pure intentions.  Then there was chocolate and snack and dough.  But, not real dough.  It just tastes like dough in the best, most guiltless way.  The bowl is empty.  But, I didn't have to say that, did I?

Now, as I sit here in a pile of shame and tears the only penance I can think of is to share the recipe with you and hope that you don't have a modicum of self control.  Best of luck to you, friends.

Chocolate Cookie Dough Bites - makes 20-30 bites

2 cups dates, pitted (I use Medjool)
1 teaspoon vanilla
a scant 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 mounded tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder*
4 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup raw walnuts or pecans or a mixture of the two

Blend all ingredients in the food processor for about 1 and 1/2 minutes, or until mostly smooth.  Take "dough" out, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in fridge for 1 hour.  When ready, roll "dough" into balls of a snackable size.

*I found my cacao powder at the health foods store.  It is a brand called Navitas Naturals.  If you can't locate cacao powder, unsweetened cocoa will do the trick.


Dinner @ 226 - Thai Coconut Lime Soup

The mystique of our local sushi restaurant is what keeps Jason and I coming back, as we drool with memories of our last Pad Thai.  Their impossibly sharp knives and the tiny cat who waves to us as we stare in amazement at the Chef's knife skills. The curly orange corkscrews and weird pile of crunchy, clear grass.  The smell of fermented soybeans and happiness that saturates the tiny walls.  And of course, the food.

I first fell in love with this soup eight years ago when I began to go outside the confines of ordering Spicy Tuna Roll every single time.  I have now tried nearly everything on the menu, but this soup fills me with joy.  And, I'm not talking about a simple smile and casual happiness.  I'm talking just finding your favorite right-foot moccasin after three years of thinking the dog chewed it up into bits, sort of joy.  Yes, this soup brings me nirvana.

So, I learned how to make it at home.  Wouldn't you if you were being kept from experiencing such joy on a regular basis because of financial strain and because the sushi chef knows both of your childrens' names and possibly also their birthdays.  It was turning into a problem.  It was, frankly, the only solution.

Thai Coconut Lime Soup - I serve this with many things; homemade pad thai, stir fry or a huge salad with some spicy sauteed shrimp and this Carrot Ginger Dressing.  This amount will serve four people if you're having something else rather filling.  If this is intended as a main, double the recipe and add shrimp!  Remember, it's just as good the next day.

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated (I do mine on a Microplane and always go closer to 3T)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can of coconut milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced (I do these on my mandolin)
1 8 oz container of mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 roma tomato, cut in chunks (optional)*
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat the oil over medium heat in a fairly large saucepan, or if you're doubling it, in a soup pot.  Briefly warm the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes, I'm talking 1 minute or less.  Add the coconut milk and 3 cups of water.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water.  Add to the pot and bring to boil.

Reduce to simmer and add the carrots and mushrooms.  Let them simmer in the soup for about five minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and salt.  Just before serving, stir in the scallions and cilantro.  You do that so they don't wilt and brown.

*At the sushi restaurant in our neighborhood, they're always putting different vegetables in.  Sometimes you'll find a tomato or green beans.  Feel free to add what you like.


Lunch @ 226 - Hummus and Tapenade Sandwich

Having your kids' lunches packed the night before is really the only way to maintain Morning Sanity.  Why would anyone want to throw another annoying task into the already chaotic morning routine?  There's always someone complaining that Avocado Toast or eggs was NOT what they wanted for breakfast and then there's a lost library book and then someone feeds the avocado toast to the dog who smears green mush all over the new couch and then someone can't find their favorite magic striped socks and then someone accidentally-on-purpose steps on someone else's foot and then there's seven straight minutes of whimpering and then I lose my brain and whatever ability it once had to think proper thoughts. But, at least the lunches are packed away in the fridge, ready to go.  Right?


I never do it ahead of time.  I always wake up and add one more annoying task to an already chaotic morning routine.  I am not a Do-er Ahead-er.  I am a disorganized and scatter brained mom who leaves most things to the last moment.  It's something I'm working on, okay?

I do, however, pack a mean (albeit scurried) lunch.

Hummus and Tapenade Sandwich - This is the sandwich version, but we also make the same thing on whole wheat tortillas.  They're equally yummy.

2 pieces of whole wheat bread
hummus, we used white bean (recipe below)
prepared olive tapenade*
one carrot, peeled and shredded
a few leaves of lettuce
some thinly sliced bell pepper

Shmear one side of the bread with hummus, and the other with tapenade.  Pile up the rest of the ingredients and finish it off with a sprinkle of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.

Throw in some Snack Bites, a greek yogurt and an apple and there, that wasn't that bad.  And you're not even late...until someone spills their smoothie on their magic striped socks.

*If you/your child  doesn't like olives (mine love them), Pesto makes a great substitution.

White Bean Hummus - I make a huge pot of beans every week.  From that, I make one batch of hummus and use the rest in dinners, on salads or in burritos. It's nice to have something healthy and convenient to dip some carrots into or spread on sandwiches.

This makes a lot of hummus, but it keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.

2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1/2 cup tahini
3 cans of white beans, drained, or the homemade equivalent
2 tablespoons lemon juice
a handful of fresh herbs, basil and parsley are my favorite in this
1 teaspoon of sea salt, more to taste
some water, the bean cooking liquid is great for this

Whiz the garlic cloves and tahini in the food processor for a good minute.  Add the beans and process until smooth.  I usually let mine run for about two to three minutes.  I like smooth hummus.  Add the lemon juice, salt and herbs and pulse until the herbs are just little specks.  If needed, thin the hummus out with 1-4 tablespoons of water.  Add the water one tablespoon at a time until you see the texture you're looking for.

Taste and add salt and/or lemon juice if needed.

Serve with veggies and pita breads, shmear on sandwiches or have a big dollop on your salad.  I store my hummus in the fridge but I think it tastes best at room temperature.  So, take it our of the fridge a few hours before serving.


Snack @ 226 - Snack Bites

If you're on Pinterest, you probably know all about these little gems.  No-bake snacks and homemade versions of energy bars seem to be one of the most FPed items on pinterest.  Oh, that means Frequently Pinned, duh. But, I always feel like having one more Real Life Opinion takes me one step closer to actually making the things on Pinterest.  Validation, I guess.  So, here I am to tell you - make them now.  I don't know why I waited so long.

The Taste Tester.

They take under 10 minutes of active prep.  You don't need a food processor. They stay good in the refrigerator for over two weeks.  They are free of most allergens.  They satisfy both a need for a snack and a subtle sweet tooth.  You may never buy another insert your favorite 7$ energy bar here.  Your kids will love them.  You can customize them for your own taste buds.  What?  You want more reasons?  Well, that's just greedy.  Now, get in the kitchen and get not baking.

No-Bake Snack Bites - inspired by this recipe

1 cup oats
2/3 cup shredded and unsweetened coconut, toasted
1/2 cup peanut butter*
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup cranberries, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Stir everything together in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate.  Once they're chilled (about 1/2 an hour), take them out and squeeze Tablespoons of "batter" in your hand and then form into little balls.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Makes 20-30 balls, depending on size.

Oatmeal Cookie Version - these were my favorite

1 cup oats
2/3 cup shredded and unsweetened coconut, toasted
1/4 cup peanut butter*
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon chia seed
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Follow the directions above.

*Of course, you can make these with whatever you have on hand.  Substituting any variety of dried fruit, nut butter, spices, etc.  Use Sunflower Seed butter to make them peanut-free, for a school snack.  And, use Gluten Free Oats to make them gluten free.


{Rule Number Two}

2.  If you ever decide to have children, never underestimate the power of letting your partner sleep in.  

See Rule 1. Here


Beckett is Four + Recipes

Another successful birthday party for my littlest dude.  This one was last minute and harried and sort of scrapped together without too much thought.  I asked Beckett what he wanted for his birthday party?  And, matter of factly, he replied, "I want Thanksgiving."  Like, I should have known.  I think the older he gets the more he will resent that his birthday is in the middle of such a busy part of the year.  But, at this age he just wants more of the cozy craziness that is the holidays.  It was a cute request.  How could I deny him?  (See: pictures below.)

To make the "runner" I just unrolled some white craft paper  and cut it on the diagonal on the ends.  To make the dots, I just dipped my thumb in some yellow paint and went to town.  Cute, easy and cheap!
So, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I had everyone over to my house for...Thanksgiving.  My mother thought I was crazy.  She was all, "nobody is going to want turkey and stuffing all over again."  But, Beckett and I deemed her a traditionalist and moved on with our plan to host the greatest Thanksgiving Number Two Ever.  And so it was.

I sent out an email telling people where and when to be at my house.  (An email?  Not even an evite?  On Reed's first birthday I hand-placed single sequins in the shape of a huge number one on bright pink card stock.  It took hours.  Now, I just send emails?  I can't decide if this is a slow move towards sanity or just complete laziness and slackerdom.)  

Jason smoked a turkey and I made 1,700 sides.  I justified this to my sister after she spent exactly 27 minutes trying to talk me back from the brink of complete CRAY.  "I just feel like every vegetable deserves a spot on the Thanksgiving table, Jess.  I can't just leave one out.  It would be cruel." I pleaded.  Did I mention CRAY?

It was small.  Only our family and neighbors plus a few of our best friends.  Now that I've matured a bit, I realize that it is completely unnecessary to have everyone you know over for your child's birthday.  Most of them don't want to be there anyway.  Invite the ones that do.

He finds a goofy way to do everything.  Even eating a biscuit.

We finished it off with a few gifts and the best chocolate cake in the world.  Seriously people, I have perfected this chocolate cake thing.  And I don't even eat it.

Chocolate cake and chocolate coins.  A must, in Beckett's opinion.

He was more interested in the coins than blowing out his candles.

So, I learned once again, that the more simple and low-stress an event is, the more fun it is!  Yes, there was too much food, but no matter, Beckett was only there for the chocolate coins...

Below are my favorite recipes from the day.  These will most certainly be making an appearance on our Thanksgiving Birthday table next year.  I went against the grain and didn't test these recipes (besides the fennel salad, I make that all the time) before the Big Day.  In a stroke of luck, they all worked out.  It was a good day, indeed.

Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole - not for the traditionalist, but so tasty.  

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder*
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin
a pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pistachios
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut
a scant 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Boil your chunks of sweet potatoes until very tender.  Drain them completely and let cool, then mash well into a bowl.  Add the eggs, milk, spices and lime juice and stir until uniform.  Dump the mixture into a casserole and flatten the top with the back of your spoon.  Evenly sprinkle the pistachios and coconut over the top of the sweet potatoes and drizzle with melted coconut oil.

Cook for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

*This amount of spice will give the potatoes a subtle warmness, if you like real spiciness - up the amounts.

Roasted Brussel Sprout Shreds - These are great warm, room temperature, or cold.  They make a fantastic sandwich addition the next day.  And, I think because of the fine texture, even people who think they don't like brussel sprouts like these.  That's saying something!

3 pounds brussel sprouts, shredded
2 + tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice of one juicy lemon
3/4 cup cranberries
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Most grocery stores offer pre-shredded brussel sprouts, which is fine and certainly, more convenient.  I like to shred my own because I'm a control freak in the food processor.  Either way works.

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  

Put the shredded sprouts into a giant bowl.  Add olive oil and salt and pepper.  Mix with clean hands until everything is glisten-y.  You don't want excess oil or saturated sprouts (they will end up limp and soggy), you just want everything to have a sheen of olive oil.  Add more until you get those results.

Spread the sprouts out onto your prepared baking sheets in even layers.  Put both baking sheets in the oven and let them roast for 7 minutes.  At this point, rotate the sheets and toss the sprouts.  Then, back in the oven for a final 7 minutes.  You want some crispy brown strands.

Take the brussel sprouts out of the oven and put them in your serving bowl.  Adjust the seasoning.  Drizzle with lemon juice and toss.  Top with cranberries and pecans and an extra light drizzle of good olive oil.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

The next day, I whole heartedly recommend eating these sprouts, warm,  on a whole wheat tortilla with a mashed up avocado and extra salt and pepper.  I was so sad when we ran out.

Shaved Asian Pear and Fennel Salad - from this book which has provided me with some of our favorite standards.  If you don't have it, I can't recommend it enough.  These amounts are for four people as a first course.  Double it if you're making it for a crowd.

1 fennel bulb, trimmed 
1 asian pear
2 ounces shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, just buy a block and use as much as you need and save the rest       for topping pasta or whatever
the juice from about 2 lemons, you may need more or less
good tasting extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt or other crunchy sea salt
frech black pepper

special equipment: mandolin - though you can make this salad with a sharp knife, i=a mandolin makes it easier.

Prep your ingredients.  Trim away all the brown and bruised spots on the outer shell of the fennel.  Tear away any outside layers that look like they wouldn't be crisp.  Slice the bulb in half from root to stem.  Holding the root side, slice half moon shapes of fennel on your mandolin.  Repeat with the other half and set aside.

Slice your pear in half from root to stem and take out the stem and core.  Slice both halves on the mandolin, resulting in little half moons or crescent shapes.

Now, layer.  I serve this on a larger flat platter for presentation's sake.  First put a layer of fennel and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Then a layer of pear and about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and some shavings of cheese.  Repeat layers.  Fennel, oil, pear, salt, and cheese until you are out of ingredients.  Finish with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, some cheese and a few cracks of black pepper.

After one or two times of making this, you'll get the hang of how much oil and juice and cheese to use. It just takes some repetition.  Although, even the first time I made it, my mind was blown.  I regret that this salad loses all of its awesomeness if stored overnight.  It gets limp and pretty gross.  So, eat it all up!


Weekending @ 226

What are you all up to this weekend?  We have a big project that concerns updating this awesome cabinet that was given to us for free!  Have you ever heard of a Hoosier Cabinet?  I guess they're a thing, although I didn't know that until I was the owner of one.  Anyway, I can't wait to show you the results next week.  New hardware and new paint color and I think it's going to be super cool.  


If I didn't have Super Nerdy DIY plans, I would...

Invite some friends over for an impromptu at-home Movie Bingo Night.  So Cute!

Be making one of these to kick the last of this annoying cough.  Although our weather forecast here in Dayton is looking like we might hit 60 degrees, in which case I might just go back to my old standby.

Follow along with this challenge.  Such a good way to get started making simple food for your family.  It's all about a routine.  Jenny has the best no-fuss fresh ingredient recipes.  And, if you happen to have a family, you NEED her book.

Possibly go boot and coat shopping.

Go down to our little theatre and see this movie and drink a beer.  Fun!

Finish this book and possibly start another.

Wear this lipstick because it's my new favorite.  And, I'm pretty certain it would look great on anyone.

Find another use for these.  Because they turned out awful and crumbly, which is disappointing because I thought they were going to be totes yums.  Anyone out there have a great granola bar recipe?

Go for a walk in the balmy 60 degree weather.

Gift this sweatshirt to each of my kiddos, and maybe one like this for myself.  If I'm feeling generous.

Make these for an upcoming baby shower that I'm hosting!

Oh, and make and freeze a whole lots of Kale Pesto, which I might actually get around to doing.  Want the recipe?

My virtual weekend sounds sweet!  But, I'm perfectly fine with repainting my cabinet and laying low with my loves (while wearing red lipstick, obvi).  My BFF neighbor might even come over to help me.  That means you...Emily!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Gifts @ 226 - Jars of Yumm

I wanted to do something different for little Christmas gifts this year.  Gifts for teachers and friends and some special coworkers.  I knew I wanted them to be homemade and edible.  And, I was strangely anti-baked good this year.  Call it wholesome, call it healthy or just call it communism.  But, cookies were out.

That is not to say that I don't love the occasional flour and sugar overdose, I just wanted to give a gift that was a bit more virtuous.  A gift with which to start the New Year.  A gift that could be saved in the fridge for weeks of divine snacking or used as an accompaniment on a cheese plate as guests bombard your home.  Or, you know, a gift that could be warmed and poured over ice cream in preparation of sweat pants and a Breaking Bad marathon.  Useful, somewhat wholesome, and different.  That's what I wanted.

The Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

An outtake from our attempt to get a posed shot of three cousins.  The conclusion?  Posed shots are overrated.

A gift, by all accounts, that I would love to receive.

This is what happened.

Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread inspired by Bon Appetit

2 heaping cups hazelnuts, skins off (if at all possible, buy them like this, it is a pain to do it yourself)
1/4 cup sugar, I used organic
1 pound (good) bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed*
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roast your hazelnuts for about 13 minutes, or until dark in color and very toasty smelling.  Let cool completely.

Put hazelnuts and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until paste-y.

Melt the chocolate in a large metal bowl over a pot of simmering water.    When the chocolate is completely melted, remove the bowl and whisk in butter, cream and salt until smooth.  Lastly, stir in the hazelnut/sugar mixture and combine.

Pour the mixture into your clean jars and let cool.  The spread will thicken up as it cools.

Long term storage is best in the fridge, but it can sit out at room temperature for five days.  Our favorite way to eat it is melted over slices of pineapple.  It sounds strange and my kids can take all the credit for developing this application, but it is super yum.  Even better with coconut and pistachios sprinkled on top.  Like a not-ice cream sundae.

*I'm thinking of remaking this with coconut oil in place of the butter.  I think it would be outstanding.  If you happen to try it, let me know how it went in the comments.

Smokey Date & Lemon Spread from Joy the Baker

This was my favorite.  I kept a jar for my own mouth.  We ate it on crackers with goat cheese or manchego, with warm pita or naan, and on a fancy schmancy grilled cheese.

2 1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt

Place a saucepan over medium heat and add all the ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes until the mixture resembles Date Stew, whatever that is.  It should be thick, just make sure to stir it occasionally so that it does not stick to the bottom.

Once you've got some thickness, pour the whole mess into the bowl of a food processor and whiz it around until smooth.

Pour into clean jars and store in refrigerator until ready to gift or serve.  Lasts up to two weeks.

Carrot Ginger Dressing and Smokey Date Spread

Isn't this the prettiest gift-worthy color?

These are half pint jars from Ball.  Aren't they squatty and adorbs?

Ginger Carrot Miso Dressing from Smitten Kitchen

We have this on salad at least once a month, with homemade pad thai or stir fry.  I think it's fun to share something that has made your own family's life more delicious.  Below, I have doubled the quantities for gifting purposes.  If you're just making it for dinner (which I would recommend), halve the recipe unless you want leftovers (which I would also recommend).

2 large carrots or 4 medium, peeled and cut into manageable chunks
2 small shallots, trimmed and peeled
4 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 tablespoons sweet white miso*
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup grapeseed oil, or other flavorless oil
4 tablespoons water

Put the carrots, shallots, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.  Run it until it looks like chunky baby food.  Add the miso, vinegar and sesame oil and blend.  While the motor is running, drizzle in the oil and water.

Although thicker, and more carrot-y, this dressing is very reminiscent of the one they serve at hibachi grills.  You know the one.  So spoon it over some butter lettuce and avocado, or use it as a vegetable or sushi dip.  You'll want it on everything.  Swear.

*Because of the stigma around soy, I always buy organic miso.  I've also used other kinds of miso (like yellow) with this dressing and the results are delicious.  Slightly different, but equally delicious.


Rule Number One {The First Installation of a Many-Parted Series}

#1 If bluetooths/wireless ear pieces still exist, keep people who wear them regularly at an arm's length.*

*In order to create some sort of Forever Dialogue with my kids, I will be compiling a list of rules that I have learned or am suggesting one ought to follow. The list will exist here because, well, because I tend to lose anything on paper.  Some will be serious, others smart, perhaps arbitrary and certainly somewhat funny.  The hope is that they will look back on this and gain some real insight regarding things I may forget to tell them in Real Time.  Or things that just don't come up - like bluetooths headsets, for instance.  Enjoy.



So, here we are in 2013. I hope you had a joyous holiday season and I also hope your pants still button. Mine barely do.

Guess what a few members of my crazy family asked for for the New Year? They want more Flour & Child blog posts. I mean, I thought the super creepy and delightful head scratchers that I put in their stockings would satisfy every one of their desires. But, no. They want more posts. And, I'm not one to NOT deliver on a New Year's wish. Actually, I often give gifts a little late so it is apropos that I'm posting on the seventh day of the new year, instead of the first. But, as it is a monday and the leftover cakes and cookies have finally been eaten and I've gotten somewhere closer to a routine that does not involve the regular consumption of butter and heavy cream, I think I'm ready to start granting these wishes.

I have so much to share with you. And, I have finally given myself permission to take time away from piles of laundry and stacks of dishes to be here. Because, writing and cooking make me happy. Sharing those things (among others) makes me even happier. And everyone deserves a happy 2013.

So, here's me saying I will be here more. I hope you will be too.